Recently, the New York Times published two important editorials (the unsigned pieces that members of the editorial board write). The first expressed dismay about the lack of real change in the current farm bill draft voted out of the House of Representatives and awaiting Senate action. The second lamented the spread of factory farms across the U.S. and directed readers to a map produced by Food & Water Watch that indicates the location of every factory farm in the U.S. You can view the map < a href="http://www.factoryfarmmap.org"> here.
And here’s my letter to the Times pointing out what links the two editorials, a connection the editors themselves didn’t make:
There’s an important link between your editorials on the lack of farm bill reform (July 28, 2007) and the spread of polluting, noxious and cruel factory farms (July 31, 2007): massive subsidies for corn and soy, which become low-cost feed for animals raised for meat. The subsidies keep prices low, plantings high and corporate operations at the trough – making the explosion of factory farming practically inevitable. As the animals become cheap food, our national epidemic of obesity and the chronic diseases that go with it gain speed. In 1950, about a billion animals were raised as food in the U.S. Today, that number hovers around 10 billion. Decades of farm bills larded with billions of dollars in subsidies have created this landscape of agglomeration. Slashing the subsidies in this year’s farm bill would be one of the best ways of slowing the march of factory farms across the U.S. (and the world). We’d also have a chance at reclaiming our public health, our environment, and some of our humanity in relationship to other animals.